Congressional Sheila Jackson Lee, a senior Member of the Judiciary Committee and Ranking Member on the Homeland Security Subcommittee for Border and Maritime Security, made the following statement at a press conference held today with Houstonians and law enforcement officials and others to discuss the impact on homeland security resulting from possible government shutdown:
"I extend my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the 65 victims killed and 175 persons injured by the barbaric and depraved attack by al Shabaab terrorists on unarmed civilians at the Westgate Premier Shopping Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, the deadliest terror attack in Kenya since 1998 when al Qaeda blew up the U.S. Embassy there, killing 213 people.
"President Kenyatta and the people of Kenya should know that the United States stands with them in their hour of grief and in their resolve to bring the perpetrators to justice and al Shabaab to heel. As President Kenyatta, who lost a nephew in the attack, has said of the al Shabaab terrorists: "They shall not get away with their despicable, beastly acts' and will be brought to justice.
"The attack at the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi is a reminder of the what the impact could be of an attack on soft targets in the United States such shopping malls, hotels, movie theaters, sport stadiums, hospitals, schools, churches, and placs of worship.
"As a senior member of the Homeland Security Committee, I am therefore announcing 4 initiatives:
"I call for expanded eligibility for Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant funds for local law enforcement personnel, including Houston constables.
"I call for expanded utilization of local law enforcement personnel, including Constables here in Texas.
"I call for greater cooperation and coordination between federal, state, and local law enforcement in the gathering and sharing of intelligence needed for them to protect and secure soft targets.
I call for congressional hearings to discuss how to determine how to enhance protection of soft targets.
"These initiatives ares especially important to our community because the greater Houston area has been regarded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be among the highest threat urban areas in the nation.
"Finally, I call upon the leaders in the House to abandon their strategy that puts could lead to a government shutdown which will put the security of our homeland nation at risk in a number of ways, including the termination of all training for law enforcement and the immediate furloughing of all DHS and FEMA personnel working on grants programs intended to help build state and local capacity to recover from natural disasters and public emergencies."